Why Is It Important for Seniors to Get a Pneumonia Shot?

Seniors age 65 and older should receive a pneumonia vaccine because older people face increased risk of life-threatening pneumonia infections, according to WebMD. Seniors get invasive pneumococcal diseases 10 times more than young people, and 18,000 people ages 65 or older die of these infections every year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two pneumonia vaccines, a recommendation issued in February 2015.

The CDC recommends that seniors receive Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 vaccines, notes WebMD. Prevnar 13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria, while the Pneumovax 23 covers 23 different strains. Both vaccines offer broad protection against pneumoncoccal infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia. Protections against Streptococcus pneumonia remains a priority since this type of infection causes the most serious illnesses in adults and children worldwide. Health statistics reveal more people die annually from pneumococcal diseases than from all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.

Older adults who have never received any pneumonia vaccines should receive the Prevnar 13 vaccine first, followed by Pneumovax 23 eight weeks later, says WebMD. Seniors who already received Pneumovax 23 should receive a Prevnar 13 injection a year or more later.

Senior citizens may need six immunizations once they reach age 65, according to Vaccines.gov. In addition to pneumonia, older people should get shots for influenza, shingles, diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Patients should consult with a doctor as to the proper vaccines to receive.